Jonathan Huberdeau’s Growing Pains are Hurting Panthers

Jonathan Huberdeau has been going through a bit of an identity crisis this season. The dreaded sophomore slump has hung heavy over the 20-year old forward. In 24 games this season, Huberdeau has 11 points (5-6-11). While those numbers aren’t necessarily horrible, they are not impressive enough for a reigning Calder Trophy winner. Since his draft day, Huberdeau has been seen as one of the most important pieces in Florida’s future. Drafted as the top player from the QMJHL, and the MVP of the 2011 Memorial Cup, Huberdeau was known for his speed, crafty hands and playmaking ability. His arrival to the Florida organization gave the team a glimmer of hope for a star-power forward they have desperately craved for years.

As a junior player, Huberdeau proved that he had gamebreaking offensive ability. Huberdeau recorded 257 points (104-153-257) in 195 games played, during his time with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL. In the 2012-13 lockout shortened season Huberdeau joined the ranks of the NHL after finishing the first half of the season with the Sea Dogs and representing Canada at the World Junior Championship. Huberdeau played in all 48 games of the season, leading rookie scoring with 31 points (14-17-31).

Since his Calder-winning performance, Huberdeau has struggled offensively. A lot of his struggle can be attributed to his  lack of shooting the puck. Huberdeau registered three or more shots in a game 19 times during the 2012-13 season, including a career-high eight shots against Buffalo, on Feb. 28, 2013. He finished the season with 112 shots. This season, Huberdeau has a season-high of three shots in a game, which he has done three times and a total of 34 shots on the season. A victim of doing too much at times, Huberdeau tends to overplay the puck and attempt to stickhandle his way to the net in many situations

Huberdeau is most dangerous in close quarters. The St. Jerome, QC native does not possess the dangerous shot of an NHL-caliber sniper, and is most lethal when he finds himself one-on-one with a goaltender. His lack of size keeps him from getting to the dirty areas in front of the net. Opposing defensemen are able to easily move the 6’1″, 177-pounder off of the puck and out of goal scoring areas. Huberdeau has strong offensive instincts and is clearly capable of both scoring goals and setting up plays as well, but on the ice Huberdeau looks as though he hasn’t quite figured out if he wants to be a goal scorer or a playmaker. He found success last year in shooting the puck and looked as if his play-making persona from his junior days had a little more to offer. Huberdeau had ten games last season where he registered just one shot, while so far this season he has had 13 games where he was held to just one.

Huberdeau got a taste of being a goal scorer last year, and being pegged as “the next big thing” for Florida. While he struggles to figure out his game, the Panthers are struggling on the scoreboard. Florida’s 26th ranked goals per game (2.12) and a 30th ranked power play (9.3%) could really use Huberdeau to generate anything at this point. With the exit of Stephen Weiss in the offseason, and now the exit of Kris Versteeg, the pressure is on Huberdeau to produce some offense. 

Huberdeau has yet to have a multi-point game this season after having seven of them last year. His career-high-multi-point game was against the Philadelphia Flyers last season, where he registered four points (2-2-4).  The Flyers and Panthers face off on Monday and hopefully Huberdeau can find some of the magic he had against the Flyers last season in that game. The Flyers are playing well right now, winning six of their last seven games, and coming off of a 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders. Huberdeau is pointless in three games, but just before that he was riding a three game point streak. This inconsistency is hurting the Panthers needless to say. Huberdeau’s constant want for flashy plays isn’t showing up on the scoreboard the way he’d like, and it’s also earned him 11 giveaways, the most on the Panthers. In order for him to help his team and salvage the season, he needs to step up now by finding the back of the net, and make better decisions with the puck.

He has a chance to make a difference on a team he performed well against last season on Monday, so he should go into the game with some confidence. Huberdeau is still very young and oozes offensive talent. Getting bigger, learning to play two-way hockey, getting back to shooting the puck more and becoming more comfortable playing against team’s top defensive pairings should be on the list of must-do’s for the youngster. A team’s offense should not be placed on the shoulders of a 20-year old. Unfortunately for Huberdeau, without a consistent supporting cast, along with the high expectations of being a top draft choice and a rookie of the year, the spotlight has been on Huberdeau since the start of the season, and will continue for a long time.

Thanks for reading! We welcome your comments!

Follow All Panther Parkway writers on Twitter: Mike Lewis, @MLewsy11, Dave Lasseter, @davidlasseter, Frank Rekas @FrankRekas,Paige Lewis @PaigeLewisFL, Jameson Cooper @JamesonCoop, and Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530. Visit our Facebook fan page here and give us a like and share anything you wish with us.

Farewell To Stephen Weiss

Source: Michael Miller- (Wikimedia Commons)

Source: Michael Miller- (Wikimedia Commons)

Although the Florida Panthers made few free agency moves on July 5th, it would turn out to be one of the most historic days in recent memory for the franchise. There had been speculation whirling around for months that the Panthers and Stephen Weiss were going to go their separate ways come summer time. Most of the fan base didn’t want to think about it, or believe it. But around 3pm, Friday afternoon, the Detroit Red Wings announced that Florida’s longest tenured player would be taking his talents to Motor City. The rumor that had spread like rapid fire months before had actually become a reality. After 11 seasons with the Panthers, Florida’s fan favorite Stephen Weiss was leaving the sunny South for good- or at least for the next 5 years.

Even though we all had a feeling that this day would come, for Panther fans, the harsh reality was that the “Stephen Weiss” era was officially over. This era had dated back since 2001 when the Florida Panthers selected 18-year-old Stephen Weiss 4th overall in the NHL Entry Draft, which was held at the Office Depot Center (now BB&T Center). Panther fans were ecstatic to draft the Plymouth Whalers centerman who was nicknamed “Weisserman”, after the great Stevie Yzerman due to their similar 3 zone playing styles.

After splitting time between the OHL, AHL, and NHL for a few seasons, Weiss finally earned a permanent roster spot with the Florida Panthers. But it wasn’t until the 2008-2009 season that Stephen Weiss really became an icon to South Florida hockey fans. With Olli Jokinen gone, and Pete DeBoer named head coach, Weiss was about to be handed the keys to the show. For the next four seasons, Weiss averaged 57 points a year and almost 53% in the face-off circle. Unfortunately for Weiss, he was a first line guy on a team that never found much success.

But on April 5, 2012, the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Buffalo Sabres in regulation, which meant the Panthers had sealed their first playoff spot in over 11 years. After 637 playoff less games for the long time Panther, fans would finally get to see Stephen Weiss appear in his first ever NHL playoff game. Weiss tallied 5 points (3g-2a-5p) during the playoffs to help us to a game 7 double OT series vs. the New Jersey Devils. Although the game was over when Adam Henrqiue slipped one through the 5-hole of Jose Theodore, it didn’t matter because Weiss did it. After 9 seasons with the Florida Panthers, alternate captain, Stephen Weiss had lead his team to the most exciting playoff round most of us have ever witnessed.

Weiss has poured his heart and soul into this team for over a decade now. Even without seeing much success, Weiss never gave up on the team he cared so much about. Now he will begin a new journey, playing for his favorite team as a young boy, and also one of the greatest hockey towns of all. Weiss leaves the Panthers as not only the all-time games played and assists leader, but he leaves behind a legacy and era that will never be forgotten. I think I speak for all fans when I say that Weiss, go knock em’ dead in Detroit. You deserve it…

It’s hard to express in only my words just how much Stephen Weiss really meant to the Florida Panther franchise- but maybe our fans can show you. Below is a compiled list of letters from Panther fans describing their most fond Stephen Weiss moments:

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Panther Parkway Radio: Free Agency, Matthias, Development Camp, etc.

Take a listen as the staff of Panther Parkway discuss the exciting events that took place during Free Agency, and will take place during this week’s development camp!

Host: Paige Lewis

Guests: Frank Rekas and Jameson Cooper


  • Shawn Matthias Re-signing
  • Free Agency
  • Development Camp
  • Stephen Weiss’ future
  • Future of the Florida Panthers

Click the link below for today’s podcast!

We welcome and encourage comments and feedback! Please come say hello to the staff of Panther Parkway at Development Camp!

Follow the Panther Parkway crew on Twitter: Frank Rekas @FrankRekas, David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Paige Lewis @PaigeLewisFL, Jameson Cooper @JamesonCoop, and Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530.  Also, please join our FaceBook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and tell us what’s on your mind.

Five NHL Free Agents Getting A Fresh Start

When I grew up, which admittedly was a long time ago, there was very little player movement and even less of a choice of where to play.  For the early part of my childhood there were only six teams until the 1967-68 season when the amount of clubs doubled.  The NHL added the St. Louis Blues, Philadelphia Flyers, Minnesota North Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins, California Golden Seals, and Los Angeles Kings.  The expansion continued over the years as you can see the entire progression here, giving more opportunity to more players.

However back then, or as @LilMissRatTrick says, “in the old days”, players either stuck with their team for their entire career, or there were a few trades made before and during the season.  But nowhere near the player movement that goes on currently.  Today with free agency acting as Christmas in July on an annual basis, everyone needs to reacquaint themselves with their favorite team.  It’s always interesting to see who goes where, and for how long, and for how much. But I must say that I’m quite surprised sometimes at the locations players actually decide on, and why.  Not here to judge anyone’s particular city of choice, but let’s take a look at five players who’ve moved on from places that in “my day”, would have likely never left.

* Daniel Alfredsson:  This has to be the most surprising move of the summer.  Alfie spent has spent his entire NHL career which has covered 17 seasons and 1178 regular season games playing for the Ottawa Senators.  Not bad for a player drafted in the 6th round, 133rd overall, but what a “shock” to the fan base when it was announced on Friday that the long time captain of the Senators would be leaving the capital of Canada to go play for the Detroit Red Wings.  A place where he feels he’ll have the best chance to win a Stanley Cup.  It will be interesting if the Senators make the playoffs and the Red Wings don’t.

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Florida Panthers’ Easter Eggs

Happy Easter hockey fans! While many of you will find Easter baskets filled with chocolate and scratch off lottery tickets waiting for your this morning, we here at Panther Parkway decided to give you a new kind of Easter Egg. For this special holiday, we have put together a list of fun Florida Panthers’ Easter Eggs for you to enjoy. Everything from fun stats to interesting facts about the Panthers’ season are listed below, enjoy!

*Statistics shown are correct as of March 30, 2013.

  • Between Stephen Weiss, Sean Bergenheim, Ed Jovanovski, Kris Versteeg, and Jose Theodore, the Panthers currently have $15,875,000 worth of salary out for the remainder of the 2013 season.
  • The Florida Panthers are heading towards being the first Southeast Division champion to miss the playoffs the following year since the Atlanta Thrashers failed to reach the playoffs during the 2007-2008 season.
  • Panthers’ rookie forward Drew Shore and Head Coach Kevin Dineen both played college hockey for the University of Denver.
  • Forward George Parros needs just 21 PIM’s to reach 1000 for his career.
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Will A Team Overpay For Stephen Weiss?

Last week, the Anaheim Ducks made headlines both in the NHL and the world of finance when they re-signed star center Ryan Getzlaf to a 8-year, $66 million contract extension.  The $8.5 million cap puts Getzlaf tied with Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes as the 3rd highest cap hit of any center in the NHL, only behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Although he isn’t quite at the level of players a Sidney Crosby or John Tavares, Getzlaf is still widely considered to be an elite center and the Anaheim Ducks decided to pay him like he is one. Considering this is the first mega-deal since the ink has dried on the new CBA, this mammoth contract will set the stage for the entire 2013 offseason as free agents look for the biggest cash grabs around the NHL.

And that’s where Panthers’ center Stephen Weiss comes into play…

weiss michael millerHeading into the 2013 offseason, Weiss will be one of the most coveted free agent forwards in the entire NHL as teams scramble to bid for the services of the talented two-way center. While clearly Weiss is not in the same class as Ryan Getzlaf, the fact remains that many NHL team’s will want a player like Weiss to anchor their 2nd line during the 2013-2014 season.

Luckily for Stephen Weiss and his wallet, the veteran forward will be a big fish in a small pond this offseason as only a handful of quality centers will be heading towards unrestricted free agency. Weiss will be near the top of a free agent class consisting of centers such as Mike Ribeiro, Nik Antropov, Tyler Bozak and Derek Roy – hardly a group of superstars, but still very coveted players.

[Read more...]

NHL Midway Review: Five Disappointing Players

As most teams approach the mid-way point in this 48-game shortened season, it’s time to take a step back and make assessments. Who has been great? Who has surprised you? And yes, who has been a disappointment?

On most teams around the league – sorry Blackhawks’ fans – there is at least one player fans can point to as the guy who just isn’t living up to what they had hoped for. Whether he’s failing to live up to last season’s success, or simply underperforming under the cloud of a large contract, there are many ways to label a player as disappointing.

After taking a quick look around the NHL, I have compiled a short list of players who I think many fans will agree have been huge disappointments this year for their respective teams.

*Stats accurate as of March 6, 2013

Travis Zajac (New Jersey Devils)

Travis Zajac (Wikipedia)

Travis Zajac (Wikipedia)

After an outstanding Stanley Cup playoff run in which he was able to compile 14 points, including an overtime game winning goal against the Florida Panthers to force a game 7 - Travis Zajac was awarded with an 8 year, $46 million contract this past offseason.

Sadly, ever since the ink dried on that mammoth contract, Zajac has yet to live up to the level of play that was expected of him. In 23 games this season, Zajac has only been able to earn 7 points (4G 3A) on a Devils team that is in desperate need of offense.

While Zajac is still a valuable member of the Devils’ penalty killing unit and a fantastic faceoff specialist (55.3% on the season), the fact remains that he will need to greatly improve his scoring numbers if he hopes to live up to both his contract and fan’s expectations.

Stephen Weiss (Florida Panthers)

Even before it was announced that Stephen Weiss would miss the rest of the 2013 season to undergo surgery on his wrist, it’s safe to say that his performance up until that point was hardly what fans had expected.

After scoring an impressive 57 points last season and making his first ever trip to the Stanley Cup playoffs, Weiss and the Panthers’ organization as a whole came into the 2013 season shouldering lofty expectations.

In 17 games this season, Weiss was only able to compile 4 points (1G 3A) while looking lackadaisical during many shifts and simply not putting forth the same effort fans had seen from him in past seasons. Whether it was due to injury or his looming free agency, the fact remains that Weiss didn’t live up to expectations this season.

Sadly, Weiss will continue to disappoint fans not only because he is not on the ice, but also because his injury has now cost the Panthers their best possible trade asset as the April 3rd deadline approaches.

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Headline News: Florida Panther Center Stephen Weiss Out For The Season

weiss michael miller

Stephen Weiss. Image property of Michael Miller from Wikimedia Commons

 As if the injury bug hasn’t bitten the Florida Panthers enough over the past two seasons, the team announced this morning that veteran center Stephen Weiss will be out for the remainder of the season. General manager Dale Tallon made the announcement indicating that Weiss will need season ending surgery on his wrist.  Prior to making the announcment of the Weiss injury, the organization had recalled forward Jonathan Rheault from the San Antonio Rampage, causing inquiring minds to begin asking questions of that move.  As of right now the Florida Panthers have lost 79 man games to injury.  A full repeat of last season which saw them lose well over 300 over the course of the 82 game schedule.

Here’s the video of General Manager Dale Tallon speaking to the media.

It’s been very well documented that Weiss was in the thick of a subpar season to this point in the year.  After 17 games, the long time veteran centerman of the Panthers had one goal and three assists, and his  minus rating was at -13.  Those statistics, as well as the injury could not have come at a worse time for Weiss who is in the final year of a six year contract, that also had a no trade clause.

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Quickly From The Top: Zero Point Weekend For Panthers

panthers canes

Image Property of Panther Parkway

After Saturday night’s pasting by the Carolina Hurricanes, the Florida Panthers started out the game with much more zip and energy.  Unfortunately for them, Canes goaltender Cam Ward showed up.  Again.  Out shooting the Hurricanes 12-9, Ward made all 12 saves to hold the Panthers scoreless in the first while Carolina scored twice on Panther’s netminder Scott Clemmensen. 

The Canes would score again in the second period when Jordan Staal put one past Clemmensen, making it 3-0.  A which would hold up until Panther rookie Jonathan Huberdeau tipped in a Peter Mueller cross ice pass to give the Panthers life in the closing minutes of the middle period.  The score would remain 3-1 until the closing minute of the final frame when Huberdeau scored again with the Panther net empty for the extra skater to make it 3-2 with 55 seconds left.

The Panthers seemed to play two different games having energy in the first, a lull for most of the second and third, then showing some life late in the third.  But too little too late once again, as they just ran out of time.  Clemmensen was visibly upset after the game, spoke quickly and softly  and said:

“It’s a 60 minute game.  And we all have to play 60 minutes”.

[Read more...]

Game Day Preview: Carolina Hurricanes vs. Florida Panthers. It’s Your Move



Someone once told me that” it’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it”.

Not much to say in today’s preview, but that statement will may not more meaning than it does tonight when the Florida Panthers try to avenge themselves for last night’s beating at the hands of division leading rival Carolina Hurricanes.  The Panthers who were chewed out by coach Kevin Dineen, and rightfully so for their slow start, and poor preparation, fell further behind the division lead in what could be their only hope for a playoff birth this season:

“You can blame it on injuries but that’s the ultimate cop out. It was a big game against the divisional leader and we could have reeled them in. We weren’t prepared from the drop of the puck. And that leads to injury. If you don’t have your game face, well, it’s a man’s game out there.”

A win tonight by Carolina will give them an eight point lead over the bruised and now battered Florida Panthers who are experiencing a second season in a row of injuries.  As you are aware, Jose Theodore, Dmitry Kulikov and apparently Scottie Upshall were all hurt in last night’s loss.  Kris Versteeg who made the trip but did not play, could be in the lineup tonight.  Reinforcements from San Antonio include goaltender Jacob Markstrom and veteran defenceman Nolan Yonkman.

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